Collapse 'gut wrenching' for roofing business

By Michael Dickison, Bernard Orsman

Mainzeal Property.  Photo / Natalie Slade
Mainzeal Property. Photo / Natalie Slade

Geoff Pickford's roofing business is $150,000 out of pocket after Mainzeal's collapse.

The business, which he runs with his wife and employs nine workers, recently put a new roof on Waikato Stadium for the construction giant.

The work is done, but the money won't come in.

"We have two young kids and stand to lose everything, our hard-earned house and life savings. It's gut-wrenching," Mr Pickford said.

"We started our own business about five years ago and had a really rough time financially, but slowly worked our way through it and had finally come right. Now this happens."

Luckily, he has other ongoing projects that could pull him through the loss.

"I've made a commitment to people to install a product and provide a service. Just because one person lets you down I'm not going to turn around on all the others."

But roofers and other subcontractors were devastated, he said.

"I have a lot of sympathy for Mainzeal employees, and feel really sorry for them. But the subcontractors, unfortunately, we're not owed a week-to-week wage. We're generally owed in the tens of thousands of dollars.

"If there's any money left over, IRD will get it first, then Mainzeal wage guys, then banks, then unsecured creditors like myself.

"The working heart of New Zealand comes last off the block.

"I would be highly impressed if I get 20c to 30c in the dollar. I would be highly impressed if I got anything."

He said the news came as a shock - completely out of the blue.

"In that position one sort of tries to keep a positive streak to maintain some sanity. But at the same time, the worst obviously plays on your mind. Not getting a cent."

It was already taking a toll on his family, he said.

" Just the amount of pressure and stress it creates on your relationship and family, we're squabbling already.

"You don't expect it, you know? You turn around and look at yourself and think, 'Why are we fighting?' And it's because some mongrel hasn't paid you. A lot of it is subconscious.

"You're heated up at the time and don't realise. And the kids wonder why you're bitching and fighting. I suppose there are worse-off people in the world, but I wouldn't wish this on anyone," he said.

"I woke up this morning and thought, 'I have to go back to work.'

"I could sit around and droop and cry all day, like I did the last two days. But it doesn't make you feel any better. There's no reward in it."

He had begun the new year with plenty of work and positive expectations - almost as if the difficult days were behind him and life might be kind.

"It was good, you know. Busy. Very busy. It was a good outlook," he said.

"Now we're back to blinking square one. It's like, why do we bother? It's head in the sand and down in the dumps."

Meanwhile, the Auckland Council yesterday met receivers PwC to discuss its contracts with Mainzeal, which include a $14 million upgrade of Shed 10 on Queens Wharf and a new $5.1 million library on Waiheke Island.

A council spokesman said it expected to hear back from PwC next week with recommendations on how to proceed with the projects. The Shed 10 project had been due for completion on April 17. The library project is in the early stages.

The collapse will cost ratepayers millions of dollars to settle a leaky building claim. The council and Mainzeal were jointly responsible for the claim on a multi-unit building, but with Mainzeal in receivership that left the council as the "last man standing" with an extra burden on ratepayers.

- NZ Herald

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